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March 25. 2014 6:25PM

Bill would make unlicensed driving in NH a misdemeanor

CONCORD — Someone driving without a license who had never had one, will face a criminal charge under a bill approved by the House Tuesday.

House Bill 1135 would make it a misdemeanor instead of a violation for driving without a license. Currently, someone charged with driving after his or her license has been suspended or revoked is charged with misdemeanor, but if the person never had a license the charge is a violation, the same as a speeding ticket.

Last September, Darriean Hess, then 20 of Seabrook crossed the center line of Route 1A on Neil R. Underwood Memorial Bridge in Hampton and hit four bicyclists from the tri-State Seacoast Century ride.

Elise Bouchard, 52, of Danvers, Mass. and Pamela Wells, 60, of South Hamilton, Mass. were killed in the accident, and Uwe Uhmeyer, 60, of Essex, Mass. and Margo Heigh, 54, of Danvers, were injured.

Hess had been stopped several hours earlier that morning for driving without a license, but was given a summons and released.

Rep. Michael Sylvia, R-Belmont, argued the punishment does not fit the crime, noting someone could go to jail for up to a year for driving without a license, but was told that was not true.

The bill’s prime sponsor, Rep. Robert Cushing, D-Hampton, said current statutes are inconsistent and the bill would simply make all driving without a license charges a misdemeanor.

“Operating a motor vehicle on highway of state without a license constitutes a treat to public safety,” he said.

The House passed the bill on a 261-45 vote.

The bill now goes to the Senate.


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